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Most of us aren’t tall and lean and built like a supermodel, plus if we’re over 50, we may have gained a few pounds… in all the wrong places. We may also find shopping for clothes that flatter our figure has become more difficult. If you’re nodding in agreement, take heart.  

I have some suggestions that will work together to give you the illusion of a longer, leaner silhouette.

Instead of trying to hide our figure in long shapeless shirts—which can make some of us look frumpy—we need to play up our curves and add inches to our torso, the area between our waist and breasts.

BUY A NEW BRA: When we were young the rule of thumb was that the middle of our breasts needed to fall midway between the top of the arm and the elbow, but if you’re like me… Your breasts have drifted south… and not just for the winter. When was the last time you bought a new bra? A properly fitted bra with the straps adjusted can lift and separate your breasts, plus it gives us some of our waist and torso back, both of which makes us look leaners and more youthful.

CREATE A V-NECKLINE: By showing some skin between your chin and your midriff, it gives you the illusion of a longer, slimmer upper body. Stop short of showing cleavage! The red blazer pictured below is a good example of how to do this.

TUCK IN YOUR BLOUSE: When we’re carrying more pounds than we’d like, the tendency is to hide it under a long shirt. Women who are on the thinner side can get away with this, but not so much if we have extra pounds. This suggestion may be counterintuitive, but by tucking your shirt into your pants, you’ve given yourself a waist. You’re playing up your curves! And if you’re wearing a new bra that raises the “girls,” you’ll be rewarded with the illusion of more of a torso… That area between your waist and your bust will be lengthened, which is… Youthful!

WEAR HIGH-RISE PANTS: Hooray high-rise pants, sometimes called “mom jeans” are back in style, easy to find and keep us from having the dreaded muffin top. FYI, we may still need to wear Spanx to smooth our midriff and back bulges and keep them from spilling over our waistband. The leanest pant silhouettes are straight leg and bootcut. And, again, if you’re wearing a new bra and/or shape wear and have your shirt tucked in, high-rise pants give the illusion of having more of a waist.

WEAR A BELT: This suggestion may also go against your instincts, but if you’re thick in the middle a belt will help define your natural waist and give you the illusion of a more youthful hourglass shape. If you need that added space to elongate your torso choose a skinny belt instead of a wide one.

WEAR A HIP-LENGTH BLAZER: Unbuttoned, open blazers camouflage those areas we’d rather not highlight, while creating the illusion of an hourglass figure. Don’t worry about buttoning the blazer. This is a relaxed modern style, and because you only see a vertical “slice” of the top underneath, bordered by two contrasting colored vertical panels, it makes you look thiner. If you have some straight, boxy blazers in your closet that you like, consider having a tailor take them in at the waist.


This blazer hits at the hipline plus it has a nip and tuck in the waist so it’s more flattering than a boxy, straight blazer. 

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  1. The model’s blazer almost looks too small–like it would be tight to close, even though she’s very thin, and also the cuffs look too short. Yet overall, she looks good–trim, neat yet relaxed.

    • TOF, I knew I forgot something with this blog so your comment reminded me to go in and change it. The blazer is meant to be worn open. It’s a more modern look, plus leaving it open creates the long middle which creates the illusion of being slimmer. Thanks for bringing that to my attention!! xoxox, Brenda

  2. Yes, the model’s blazer looks too small — doesn’t fit the long, lean line description in resulting look.

    • Hi Marie, You and Taste of France reminded me that I’d forgotten to add that the blazer is a more modern cut. It’s not meant to be buttoned and because we can only see the vertical “slice” of the top she’s wearing together with the “slice” of the contrasting color blazer on either side is what creates the longer, leaner silhouette. Thanks for your comment!! xoxox, Brenda

  3. This is very helpful! I have to wear blazers daily in my job, so I’ll put this to good use! Thank you! I’ve never gotten fitted for a bra. Perhaps I’ll get there.. (!!) Thanks for sharing your great tips!

    • Beckye! Get thyself to Nordstrom’s and get fitted for a bra! Most women are wearing the wrong size and cup, and the proper bra makes a huge difference in how we look in our clothes. xoxox, Brenda

  4. The blazer works for me. I’m naturally short-waisted and would wear a thin belt over an untucked top. Wearing a belt more on the hip works, too. I like shorter cuffs to show my bracelets.

    • Hi Colleen, I love to see my bracelets when I wear them as well. Just push the sleeves of the blazer and your shirt back toward your elbows. It gives you a more styled look. xoxox, Brenda

  5. Great tips! All so true! Though I found a couple of decent bras (Olga No Side Effects Underwire Contour Bra) , I’m still looking for the best place for a fitting. I didn’t have any luck at Nordstrom both times I tried. The first time was a girl who gave me VS type bras that offered no support. The second time was a cute bra but by the second time I wore it, I spilled right out. Tags in trash by then and $80 down the drain. 🙁

    • Christine, Sometimes Wacoal sends their own fitters to big stores like Macy’s, Dillards and Nordstrom’s. Even so, we can’t blindly agree with a bra fitter… I say this from personal experience. After 10 surgeries for breast cancer, each of my breasts are different sizes and shapes, and I bought a bra that a fitter suggested for me. Now my breasts are front and center in every outfit, and it’s because there’s too much bra. I don’t want to look this big, so I learned a good lesson. Don’t just take what they suggest. Bras are like trying on jeans and swimsuits and finding a prince. You have to kiss a lot of frogs before you find the right one. My own blog post this week made me realize I need to go back and try again! Thanks for the additional nudge! Sounds like you need to do the same thing. xoxox, Brenda

    • Christine, march right back to Nordstrom’s with your ill-fitting brassieres, tags or no. The same thing happened to me — Nord’s bra fitter was a novice — and I, too, thought it was $$ down the drain. Six months later (after several washings and wearings) I returned for another fitting, wearing the one that didn’t fit by happenstance, and the sales clerk was able to look up my earlier purchase using my credit card. She re-fitted me, took back the old “new” bra (with NO tags), and replaced it — no questions asked and with many apologies offered — with one that properly fit. Nordstrom’s return policy cannot be beat. Go back with your “bad fits” and the credit card you used to purchase them and Nordstrom’s will make it right. (Just make sure you’ve found a good fitter.)

  6. This is all perfectly timed for me considering that I am currently obsessed with shedding pounds accumulated over the past year and getting back to my more “normal“ size. And, there are some wonderful pointers here. I love the reminder that a V-neck elongates, but (sadly) some of these other guidelines are less effective if you are of Lilliputian persuasion. In other words, Piaf-sized (4’11”).

    On me, a tucked-in top doesn’t work unless it is in the same color as whatever I am wearing on the bottom — pants or skirt. (Consequently, most often I tend to dress monochromatically.) And I absolutely cannot wear a white blouse on top even when I am a size 6 — and I so love the look of a crisp, tailored white shirt on top! But with overly ample assets in that region and being so diminutive, white on top adds to a horizontal and chunky, shortened effect. (Sigh)

    A decades-old trick of mine, similar to the cleavage reminder you made in your post, is to look for pumps, slides and mules, regardless of heel height, with toe cleavage. A lower cut front (toe cleavage) tends to elongate short legs. And too high a heel does the opposite.

    And now, I return to browsing the end of the Nordstrom anniversary sale and imagining myself back in my favorite skinny jeans by fall…


    • DA, My first inclination was to write fashion tips for shorter women, because the same advice doesn’t apply. Tall, short, plump, skinny… We all have to find what works for us and looks best on our figures. Too often I think we buy something because it’s on sale, or we’re drawn to the color and don’t even think if it will be flattering on us. You’re right about the toe cleavage, and nude colored shoes can help give the illusion of longer legs. A crisp white blouse would look great on you with white pants, but then white pants can be tricky if we’re not the right weight. Shopping for clothes is a pain in the butt!! So many things to consider other than “I need a pair of pants.” I’m also cutting back on a few foods to lose 5-10 pounds. It’s not a lot of weight, but it’s the weight I feel best and look best in my clothes. Good luck to both of us! xoxox, Brenda

  7. Re bras: For more support the cups that are constructed with seams will do a lot of the heavy lifting. Molded cups are smooth but they don’t give the support to lift the breasts a little higher. signed, 36E

  8. Perfect timing on this post. I’ve gained over this year due to a knee injury but let’s face it, I also indulged more often. I’ve started walking more and watching what I eat in hopes of losing ASAP. All this to say, I have a very limited wardrobe at the moment and refuse to buy bigger and become complacent. I’ll be using some of your hints to appear slimmer until I get back to an acceptable size 8. I love the blazer hint. I’ll be using that one when I go out to lunch this weekend.
    FYI The blazer does appear too small on the model because it is due to her height ( short sleeves) and the style ( made to fit your curves).

    • Hi Joanna, I, too, am working on losing an extra 5-10 pounds I’ve gained in the last two years and I’m making progress! I can see why you say the blazer on the model looks small, but it appears to fit her in the shoulders. Like pants, blazers are now have cropped sleeves. Personally I like longer sleeves that gives me the option of pushing the sleeves back, folding my cuffs back over the sleeves or wearing the sleeves long. Here’s wishing us both the best on our quest for size 8. xoxox, Brenda

  9. There’s a won derail place to buy bras in Los Angeles. It’s Jenette Bras. They really know how to fit you. I also had good luck at Soma for a minimizer. As to the rest. I like the look of Tunics and leggings on me. I also wear a lot of Dry Wlaker. I have these besoms that are hard to find clothes for. I’m too late to get them reduced. I don’t need another surgery. Your posts are always so timely for us all.

    • Sandy, You look great in tunics and leggings, so you’re proof that rules are made to be broken. We just have to know what looks good on us, not blindly decide to wear something and then wonder why we don’t look good in it. My breasts used to be on the small side, but went with my slim figure, and I loved them! Then after breast cancer, the plastic surgeon assumed I wanted bigger boobs, so he gave me ONE. I don’t like it, but like you, I don’t want any more surgeries. I sometimes wear Spanx to mash it down as opposed to using duct tape. xoxox, Brenda

  10. Did anyone ever button blazers anyways? Women don’t have to play by men’s rules…buttoned when standing, unbuttoned for sitting. The only time I button blazers is when putting on my winter coat.

    The new relaxed-fit blazers have replaced some of my cardigans for casual wear. But I still want long sleeves, and abhor three-quarter and seven-eights sleeves in a blazer. I wear them in fall and winter, for goodness sake. I don’t like looking like I’ve just gone through a growth spurt. And I’m betting other inherently practical women feel the same way. They won’t sell if we don’t buy them.

    • Dear Anon, You made me laugh!! “I don’t like looking like I’ve just gone through a growth spurt.” Funny! The shorter sleeves are in the stores, but I’m like you… They’re not my favorite. This image was the only “free image” I could find that illustrated a blazer that’s nipped in at the waist, with the shirt tucked in and how slimming the contrast of the open blazer can be. Three-fourths of the things in stores/online I wouldn’t wear. Thanks for your awesome comment! Brenda

  11. Not sure why, but my comment isn’t posting. Third times the charm?

    Great tips! Had a new bra fitting at Nordstrom last year (first in a few years). What a difference! More flattering and MUCH more comfortable.

    Also think that style of blazer is much more flattering, especially worn open. The fuller styles always look overbearing on me.

  12. Laurel, I’ve had problems with posting as well so thanks for telling me about it. I’ve asked my web guru to look into it. A new bra makes such a difference, right? Great confirmation Laurel. Thanks for adding to the conversation! XOXOX, Brenda

  13. Being on the “curvy-er” side, this model shows how a skinny person looks based on your recommendations. If you are writing to those of us who are shorter and wider, find a model who is shorter and wider, to really be able to see what you say really applies to us! I guess we are still fighting the skinny is valued over curves when it comes to the models chosen to display style.

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